Republicans: Military broke law searching for Gitmo alternative

Republicans: Military broke law searching for Gitmo alternative
© Getty

A trio of Kansas Republicans is accusing the Pentagon of breaking the law by spending money to survey potential Guantánamo Bay replacements in their state and elsewhere.

“Rather than spending zero dollars on site surveys, as mandated by U.S. law, the Department of Defense has spent over $25,000,” the lawmakers wrote to Defense Secretary Ash Carter in a letter released Monday. “This is following neither the letter nor spirit of the law.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The letter was sent by Kansas Republican Reps. Mike Pompeo, Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderMike Pompeo to speak at Missouri-Kansas Forum amid Senate bid speculation Yoder, Messer land on K Street Bold, bipartisan action on child care will win plenty of friends MORE and Lynn Jenkins.

In helping President Obama draft a plan for closing the Guantánamo detention facility that would transfer some detainees to the United States, the Pentagon sent teams to survey Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, S.C.; and the federal prison in Florence, Colo.

Last month, the Kansas attorney general released a one-page document he obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request that tallies the money the Pentagon spent to survey those sites.

In total, the Pentagon spent $25,909.53 on airfare, per diem and incidentals for the three visits, according to the document.

That breaks down to $7,687.20 for Fort Leavenworth, $7,158 for Charleston and $11,064.33 for Florence.

The lawmakers’ letter, dated Friday, follows one sent last week by one Republican senator from each of the three states asking the Government Accountability Office to determine whether the spending was illegal.

Under defense policy and spending bills, the Pentagon is banned from using funds to “transfer, release or assist in the transfer or release” of Guantánamo detainees to the United States.

The provision has effectively prevented Obama from fulfilling his campaign promise to close the facility because his plan hinges on transferring detainees deemed too dangerous to release to a facility in the U.S.

In the letter, the lawmakers ask Carter a slew of questions, including who at the Pentagon authorized the site surveys, what authority that person had to do site surveys, what funds were used, how many people participated in the surveys, and whether any future surveys are planned.

In a statement accompanying the release of the letter, Pompeo condemned what he called an “illegal action.”

“I am proud to stand with my colleagues in condemning this illegal action and encouraging all states to pursue appropriate legal action," he said.